Sunday, July 25, 2010

Writing in Circles

The idea that time travels circularly may not be indigenous to my brain, but it occurred to me as I was crafting my novel that I only had the major episodes fixed in my mind and that I was changing my character's past present and future simultaneously as I was working on this part here at the end and realizing that I had to write this little part over there at the beginning. So, like every egotistical writer, I wondered: is this the way time works for my life as well? Do we human beings live our lives circularly, reshaping our past and our future every time we make a decision in the present?

In quantum physics terms, it made sense, so I wrote it in the novel:

She was beyond all gods, hymns and rites because she had merged with the greater truth, where all those things are but ripples expanding out onto a lake from where a stone is thrown, and she, she was the water, rippling and curling and expanding in wide circles towards the infinite. She made me see that we create our past, our present and our future all at once, and that these three states, which we inhabit simultaneously, are pinned down but loosely by specific events during which we continue to alter our choices, reshaping the patterns that we imprint upon the unknown in perpetuity, striving towards a perfection that will one day reunite us with the primordial god. “And that is why,” she would say to me, “The future is at once so easy and so difficult to predict.”

But now I find that there is another type of circular writing, the kind that every writer should strive to avoid: I'm trying to figure out a plot conundrum and I continue to add pages, but nothing in the plot changes. It has become one of those odious logic problems in the GRE tests: event B should happen before event C, but after event A. If event D can only happen immediately after event A, and event C must always precede event D, when should event B happen?

And so it goes, as the great Vonnegut once wrote. More pages, more dialog, more "things" happening, but I keep writing myself right back to the top of the problem.

Looks like I'll be here in perpetuity.

5 comments:

Susanna said...

First, I'm not as deep as you. BUT I had a similar problem and had to stop work on my story. I want to pick the story again in the future, but now I'm haunted by the ghost of the old story.

Not a day goes by that I don't revisit that story, try to fix it in my head. It's like time and narrative gets wrinkled and I can't smooth it out.

It scares me that I created these characters and I can't get their story right. Because in some world, they are very real and waiting, stuck.

Laura Valeri said...

Ugh. Want to switch?

Susanna said...

Laura,

Switch, as in I write your story? No can do. Gilgamesh wants you. I can't do him justice.

Or switch, as if switch problems. Nope. Dislike plotting problems. BUT I can brainstorm over email.

Susanna said...

However, I have been known to bend time and other miracles.

Tina said...

Being the water -- a friend and I were talking about this today. Not crossing the river, being the river. Serendipity. This friend said no matter how out-of-faith she gets, all it takes is one occasion of divine synchronicity to make her remember.

Me? I've got a reticulated python I'm moving through time and space. And an evil twin. Y'all are into timebending and other miracles and I'm writing Days of Our Lives: Atlanta.